Is it Good to Have Rituals for Dogs Especially for Leaving and Arriving Home?
I am sure every person whom has owned or been around dogs has a story to tell of how awesome at telling time their dogs appeared to be. They could have tales of dogs predicting how people were arriving at certain times or leaving to go out and with all manner and types of obvious reactions. These same dogs would notice owners putting on certain types of clothing or shoes with fairly non responsive to leaving for work reaction which is totally different to the one a pair of runners or shoes that are used for dog outings evoked. The reaction and excitement that certain behaviours of people preparing for dog related outings instigates is much more obvious to people whom have well-adjusted and non dependent or separation anxiety suffering dogs. And as you can see the dogs ability to understand timelines is almost unequalled. People’s reactions such as guilt or worry about leaving the dogs alone, the fear of destruction or noise complaints from neighbours and authorities, that the summer storms could occur whilst they are not present and cause their dog to go into panic and either escape or smash through doors and barrier to get access to the house.
These and many other leaving rituals can magnify effects to behaviour problems or have been the original instigator or trigger that started the cascade. Notice I described this as a cascade and my rationale for this description is that dog behaviour is never static or set in concrete. It is ever changing and infinitely manipulative depending on temperament plus character which is your dogs inherited makeup. The many varied possible psychological effects of incorrect or correct split times form litter mates and mum, the correct or incorrect targeting of the social exposure time frame which is critical to sound ongoing development and often welfare. Then all of these set a platform for what is known as environmental which is the input that the dog receives from all experiences good, bad or indifferent from the time it is able to hear, see, taste, touch, feel and smell. If you set timelines and rituals that are predictable your dog will notice and possibly start to react, this could be in any form of behaviour this could be in desirable or undesirable responses. Naturally if they are desirable behaviours you would want to enhance maintaining this performance with sound reinforcement that will entice the same performance with stability. Beware as I previously stated, behaviour is not static or set in concrete and your schedule and process of reinforcement can maintain, enhance or diminish this behaviour as every incident of interaction is truly able to shape ongoing behaviour.
Should the displayed behaviour from your timelines or rituals be undesirable you must be aware that often undesirable behaviour is noticed by people more readily than desirable and that also it can have a self-rewarding propensity without your actual input being the only form or possibility of reward or consequence. Even other people’s interaction can have a massive bearing on the input consequence to your dog’s behaviour and intermittent or random responses build the longest, strongest, most robust and persistent behaviours. So, remember that calm, social and stable behaviour is the key to harmony and dogs that live this type of lifestyle are less stressed and less stressing to owners, neighbours and authorities. You can have cues that indicate a change in energy and fun but always monitor if the behaviour is stable, reliable and desirable.